Google Reader stats out of Wack

First, Techcrunch came up with a list of the top blogs that users subscribe to using Google Reader. The top 3 on the list were BBC with 202,463, Google News wih 192,100, and ESPN with 189,274 . Remember, these are only the stats if the subscriber is using Google Reader, obviously there are blogs with a higher subscription count, such as the Official Google Blog (They still haven't moved over to blogs.google.com eh?) with over 669,000 subscribers as reported by FeedBurner.

It was all well and good that Google Reader showed high stats for these blogs, but.... we were apparently duped...

In his article Google Reader Stats are BullSh*t (With Proof), Pete Cashmore goes into his explanation of the "default feed effect." A default feed is a feed that comes already subscribed in a news aggregator , or is part of a default group (like say Digg, Engadget, and Gizmodo being in the Technology group on Google Reader). Being in these groups is a major traffic boost.

However the system has some flaws

  • There is subscription data for feeds that don't exist
  • Google Reader does not check to see if a subscriber is active or not. (Someone signs up for Reader, adds a feed, and never touches Reader again, they count as a subscriber)
  • Feedburner pulls some stats from Google Reader
  • This problem is not limited to Google Reader. It includes many feed readers and start pages

Tune in next time after I do some research into how out wack FeedBurner statistics are.